Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A year of living charitably

How difficult is it to do a little something helpful now and again? Is it really that tough to pick up an errant piece of trash and dispose of it properly? Does it really cramp our style to hold the door open for someone? To improve someone's day by offering a simple smile?

In this age of jam-packed schedules, never-ending technological distractions, and rush-rush-rush attitudes, are we really so busy that we can't lend a hand now and again?

I confess I get distracted, busy, and just plain grumpy, but it really isn't difficult to help out, and it doesn't have to take a lot of time to be neighborly, to help make our communities better places to live, to help the people around us feel better about themselves and the world in which we're living.

Plus, it feels really good. According to various studies, performing good deeds, volunteering or otherwise helping others reduces stress, increases longevity and provides a higher-quality life. In other words, if you can't bring yourself to help others for their sake, perhaps you'd do it for your own good health.

People sometimes talk about doing "good deeds" or donating to "charity." What does this mean?

While in the 21st century, "charity" has come to be interpreted as "financial assistance" or "donation," Mariam-Webster defines charity as, among other things, "benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity," "generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering," and "aid given to those in need." Charity is, then, the act of helping others.

"Deed"is defined as "something that is done," "a usually illustrious act or action," and "the act of performing."

So how often do we really perform charitable deeds? Have you ever thought about it?

Our family volunteers in various ways. Sure, we hold doors open for people, but the girls and I also volunteered for nearly two years as docents at our local natural history museum. We've picked up trash throughout our neighborhood and on outings. Last year we enjoyed handing out roses to complete strangers throughout one random day - the reward for us was nothing more than smiles, sometimes hugs, and always thanks.

But as we picked up trash at a local pier recently, I wondered: do we do something charitable every day? Once a week? Less often? How difficult would it be to do at least one charitable deed every single day? How might it change us and our community if we kept a better eye out for opportunities to lend a hand?

In 2009, the girls and I intend to find out. We'll keep track of our deeds, however simple or involved, and keep you posted on the response, the feeling it gave us and any long-term changes we see as a result of our actions.

If you like the idea, have projects in mind for us or would like to spread the love, please feel free to share this blog with your friend, family, and, sure, even foes. Post your thoughts here or drop me a line.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Flip Side

IF you receive this update via e-mail, please be aware that there are photos available on the website that aren't posted here. Click on the hotlinked title to get to the site.

OK, so yesterday I got the rant part out. Thanks to those of you who responded either posting here or e-mailing me directly. Having gotten that out of my system, and having received some positive feedback, I feel a lot better. Now let me tell you about the positive sides of our family gatherings this season.

I'll start with the most recent, the event that started the rant. We got together in Fresno with family members, many of whom we hadn't seen since last Christmas. There are 10 cousins to the eight adult children, plus one set of grandparents and a great uncle. The kids have all grown so much, and they'll all much more self regulated. It was, all in all, the most pleasant family gathering we've had in the past decade.

The 10 kids, 9 of whom are 10 or younger, played wonderfully well together. The host family kids shared their drum set and marimbas, piano and bongos, toys of all sorts and space. Sure, there was plenty of potty humor, but it was refreshing to hear one of the cousins, in previous years one of the biggest instigators of purely disgusting talk, ask the other kids who were involved to "please stop while we're at the table, at least!" Oh, sure, there were some snags, but they were minor, and the good hours certainly outweighed those random minutes.

Most of the adults had mellowed with age, too. Since the kids needed little interference from us, for the most part, we had time to talk, catch up, help out with the preparation and cleanup. The host sister treated her husband with more respect than any of us had ever seen - helping him out and, unlike former years, NOT harping on him until we were all just uncomfortable witnessing it all. I had a fantastic time playing a backgammon tournament with my little brother. We played a lot when we were kids, but, MAN, he was the BIGGEST cheater. That boy would cheat at just about ANYTHING. This weekend, when he broke out the board, I was up for the game. It was one neither of us had played in years. We had to read the instructions to refresh our memories. Then, throughout the game, we kept helping each other out. That's right. ..helping each other, often to our own detriment. Sure, we both wanted to win, but we've both learned that it's much more fun to win honestly.

Our holiday season also included a relaxed Christmas Day which began with our own little pajama-clad family opening presents and enjoying treats throughout the morning, followed by a visit from both my mom and her husband and dad and his wife. (That's right - my mom and dad, though divorced nearly four decades ago, can share a room, enjoy a visit. And that makes MY life much easier, much more enjoyable.) Having Mom and OtherDad here was a last-minute surprise. They had planned to go to Washington for the holiday, but had been snowed out. Instead, they put in the extra effort to drive a couple of hours up here, enjoy the afternoon and evening with us, then head back home. It was a more relaxed replay of our Thanksgiving weekend, though I was particularly thankful they made the trip since Mom and I had a falling out after Thanksgiving. I had been pretty certain she wouldn't want to see me again. It seems we've forigiven each other and that's the second-most important thing. (Not having the argument at all would have been most ideal.)

Our winter solstice party hit a snag when we arrived at our favorite bonfire beach only to discover no fires are allowed there Dec. - March. Port San Luis Harbor District removes the fire rings from the beach to keep them from vanishing in storm swells. And no fires are allowed without the heavy, metal rings, so... We were fortunate that it was a very nice evening out. In long sleeves and long pants our family and friends played football and freeze tag, gabbed, built a fort. When it was too cold to hang out anymore (well after sunset), some of us headed to Fat Cat's for dinner.

So, I may gripe, but I must confess the holiday season was largely a success.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The family that wasn't there.

So, I wonder why most bloggers blog. I'm sure there are some who use this service as a personal diary, others who use it to tout their political agenda and others to promote themselves or their businesses. But I believe a lot of us blog to help our friends and family keep up to date with some of the important happenings in our life. It's an easy way to share in this busy world - I post it when I have time, you read it (or just look at the pictures) if you have time.

So, when your friends, or especially your family, don't pay attention to your blog AT ALL what's the point?

I am grateful for the friends and family who DO show an interest in our lives. And I know our lives are just that...OURS. No one will ever be as interested in them than those of us immersed in them. But I take an interest in the goings on of my friends and loved ones. I believe I have some inkling of what they're up to. We keep in touch by phone, in real life (GASP! I KNOW!), by e-mail and sometimes throughour blog posts. I think that's just something you DO when you're interested in and care about a person.

So, maybe you can guess how I felt at a family gathering this weekend when it became very clear that more than a couple of family members not only never read the blog, but had no idea through ANY OTHER CHANNELS what we've been up to this year. Yep - it irked the hell out of me. (Of course, it didn't help that one of these relatives greeted my 8-year-old daughter with braces as, "Motormouth.")
"So. What have you been up to? Gone on any trips lately?"

WHAT?! Have we gone any TRIPS?!

Anyone who reads this blog or the auto-send e-mails it provides to subscribers know we were gone for TEN weeks, 9,611 miles, we posted more than 2,000 photos and countless words. And it's something that kinda comes up in discussion, you know, when a family member is on the road for so long or are on an otherwise "big adventure."

They know nothing about our lives. So, well, my immediate reaction was that they didn't really give a flyin' fart about us. I know...I know! People are busy with their own lives. They don't have time to spend on the computer. They have other more important things to do than read blogs. And I suppose that's part of the point. Other things, anything, is more important than keeping in touch. Then what's the point of gathering and pretending to be family? What IS family?

Go ahead. Blog about why you blog, how your family responds, what you believe a family is; or post it here...yep...right down there where it says "free thinkers." Click there. Post. I'd love to read your take.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

How sports prepared me for parenthood during the holidays

I have a blood blister on the palm of my right hand. My butt is frozen to sweatpants soaked through with rainwater the lawn shared with me. The blustery wind is blowing strands of hair in my eyes and mouth, obscuring my view of the instruction manual. I've already put on a second layer as the temperature dropped. My body is telling me to stop, to rest, to let this project go for a few minutes, or hours or however long it takes to recuperate. But I'm pressing on. I have a job to do and a deadline to meet.

Tomorrow is Christmas and Santa is bringing the girls a trampoline. (Shhhh! Don't tell 'em!) Mr. B has taken the girls out for some last-minute shopping, lunch out with Daddy, duck feeding at the park and some climbing time in the trees there. I've been left behind to put together the trampoline and enclosure. "You can do it. The box says it's easy. No tools, even. You built a Jeep and designed our addition. Don't worry."

As I work into my third hour, miss lunch, grow colder and suffer the injuries only a screwdriver can inflict I want to stop. But then I have to laugh as I hear one of my old swim coaches.

"Pain is your friend."

I'm alone in the backyard, and it's been 22 years since I heard Joe say that. Still, he's with me.

Another coach chimes in.

"How bad do you want it? If you want it, you're going to have to work for it."

And another.

"Nothing good comes easily."

Then I laugh as I recall sharing similar messages with the swimmers I coached, andI press on with the project.

I swam through high school and into college. I raced BMX for a spell, too. These days I neither swim nor bike as much as I used to, or as much as I'd like to. But the lessons I learned from the extracurricular physical pursuits extend into even the most mundane of chores...and trampoline building.

The instructions (opened after DH and family pulled out of the driveway) said at least three adults "in good physical condition" would be needed for the project. I suppose I could have given up then, but swimming and bike racing taught me to give it a try. (Turns out it would have been EASIER with three people, but it was quite doable with one.)

When the bolt pinched the blister into the palm of my strong hand, and I'd tied my 82nd bow to secure the various pads and nets, I was sorely tempted to quit the project. But swimming taught me to focus on my goal and carry on.

And when my back began to ache and my fingers were cramping, I remembered how quickly our bodies, however tired, recover. Trampoline building was nothing like a collegiate workout, a race down the homestretch, or childbearing. I could carry on.

Mr. B just rolled up. The tramp is "hidden" in the backyard. The girls are bathing and distracted and HOPEFULLY won't look out the windows on that side of the house this evening. My project is complete. The reward will come tomorrow morning on their little faces.

Completely worth it all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday history

We've found some fantastic sites on the internet. Topics have included holiday history, lore and habits. Check out this Museum of Christmas Lights. Find your great grandparents' lights. It's amazing to me to think that people had lights on their trees 100 years ago! WHEW!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice - another reason for the season

Merry Solstice!

That's if there weren't enough to do with all the holiday celebrations we're throwing in celebration of the change of season. Tonight we'll be standing by a toasty fire on a California beach, enjoying what we consider winter weather ( may almost freeze sometime in the night), each other, and maybe some s'mores and hot cider, hot chocolate, pretty much anything we can get hot!

What's winter solstice, you ask? It's the day of the year when the sun is the furthest south as the earth tilts. It's the shortest day of our year, the longest night and marks the first day of winter. Celebrations of this day around the world predate the other "reasons for the season," Christmas and Hannukah, by centuries. The ancients told stories about the reason the sun rests, doubted whether it would return, held ceremonies to entice the sun back to it's long days' work growing the foods people needed. So it just doesn't seem right to skip it. (Plus, who doesn't want to hang out with friends by the campfire?)

Many of the traditions which we attribute to various churches predate those organizations. The evergreen, now used as a Christmas tree, was also celebrated by Romans, Druids, and Scandinavians. The 12-days of Christmas date back at least as far as the Mesopotamian celebration of the vernal equinox with festivities no much akin to those we see (in courteous company) today. In Scandinavia, the darkest days of the year were celebrated with large gatherings, food, yule glogg and yule log. Think of the energy savings if we all shared a house for nearly two weeks in the deepest, darkest, coldests days (and nights) of winter, with only one house to heat and plenty of food and drink to keep everyone satiated.

Join as at the beach, in the forest, in the desert or your backyard and celebrate this, the shortest day of the year, and the promise of longer, sunnier days ahead.

God Jul!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Water as a Human Right - vote now! is seeking input for ideas on which the new U.S. Administration may focus in coming years. Anyone can submit an idea, and anyone can vote online for an issue. (You have to register with the site, but it's free and simple.)

The issues are plentiful, the budget is failing and the economy is in the tank. Still, it seems some global issues do need to be addressed not the least of which is the future of the water supply. I've proposed an idea and would like to see it considered by others. If you like it, vote for it. (It needs 51 more votes to make it to the next round for consideration.)

Why water? Without it, there is no life on Earth. Plant and animal life (including our own) depend upon it. Regional health, both physical and financial, depend upon it. Think about it: no water = no plants; no plants = no food whether you're religiously vegan or rabidly carnivore; no food = no life. No water? No more issues to consider. Water is THE issue.

Why attack bottled water? While some of us live in areas where the water is less enjoyable than others, most of America's water systems provide sufficiently safe water for human consumption. Those areas which do NOT have such a system in place NEED ONE! Pumping water out of the aquifers of neighboring communities (or communities further afield), using resources to bottle and ship them, then dealing with the waste containers doesn't make sense. The water in a community's aquifer needs to stay in that community, provide for that community. And we need to focus on making that water fit for consumption.

Why consider funding of water projects in other nations? Because we can, first of all. Depending upon the source, as many as one in three humans do not have access to safe drinking water. (This one says one in six.) Many developing nations do not have the means to fund sanitary wells or water retention systems AND THE EDUCATION needed to keep these systems safe. These systems could provide safe drinking water for world citizens, thereby improving the health of all people. Secondly, the U.S. wants the support of other nations. War is not the answer to earning international friendships - support in all times of need is. If we help a country develop safely and efficiently, will that not spread good will?

Indeed, the U.S. already has an office dedicated to water. However, it focuses primarily, if not solely, on national water issues. Water is a global issue. Health is a global issue. And we're seeing that the economy, which can also be adversely affected or boosted by water-related issues, is also a global issue.

Come on down and vote in favor of water, or submit your own ideas for the coming administration.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let it snow!

Look what we found today! Please note: Photos on the blog do not translate to e-mail. If you want to see the pix, you need to click through to the blog site. :)

The girls and I headed up the mountains east of Santa Maria this morning. We'd seen snow up here yesterday when we were headed out to cookie backing with our SMILe (Santa Maria Inclusive Learners) friends.

But this morning as we headed out we saw no snow. Still, we were packed up and in the Jeep so we figured we might as well have an adventure.

At 3,000 feet we were thrilled with some snow stuck to the leaves of various bushes. By 4,000 feet there was snow on the ground on each side of the dirt road, but other traffic had melted or otherwise removed any hope of snow from the road.

At 4,417 feet we found a patch worthy of play. We ate some of the fresh stuff, threw some snowballs, then settled down to make a snow lady ala Grandma Kathy style. Our lady is kneeling because we couldn't get enough snow together to make her stand. I think she turned out pretty darned well for first-timers! :)

As we approached 5,000 feet we stopped to sled for awhile, but it was COOOLD and I discovered the battery was boiling. This can't be good. So we turned for home.

It was a great day out! :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Holiday Happenings

Please note: Photos on the blog do not translate to e-mail. If you want to see the pix, you need to click through to the blog site. :)

WHEW! It's gotten WAY too political around here, but thanks for letting me get THAT off my chest.

In real life, we're not focused on politics by any means. In fact (and as usual), we've found more than our fair share of fun stuff to do this holiday season.

We took a somewhat spur-of-the-moment holiday trek down to the Big D (with a stop at the Griffith Park Observatory on our way south). The girls were particularly thrilled. The park was wonderfully relatively vacant Thursday, but we paid for all that line-free luxury the following day when the park turned into a crazy house...people EVERYWHERE; a line at 10:30 p.m. for the carousel!

Tomorrow we're joining a group of homeschool friends for a cookie baking and holiday crafting day. The girls and I will take the makin's for Orange Cardamom Cookies and Lebkuchen and a kidcraft for loved ones. Wednesday, we may have SNOW here on the coast, so you know we won't be getting any worksheets or indoor "schoolwork" done! Instead we'll be trying to top Calvin & Hobbes for snow sculpture design.

Sweet Adelines sang out for a packed house in our new digs and E got to sing on the risers for the entire concert rather than the one song she'd initially be told would be hers to share. A holiday party with Grandpa Randy and Grandma Margaret. An evening with "A Christmas Carol" at the Melodrama. And another trip south to see Grandpa Doug sing with Masters of Harmony, and a surprise for us - his solo performance of "Do You Hear What I Hear" backed by the massive seven-time international championship chorus! (GREAT JOB!) On our way home, we toured the Queen Mary.

And there is, of course, baking: gingerbread cookies that went to friends, neighbors and my butt; sugar cookies for church; candy canes for the girls (and some to my butt); banana bread (Mr. B's butt); and tonight the Santa Lucia Bread (a couple of days late, but scrumptious with coffee nonetheless).

Winter Solstice is just around the corner. Find a spot for a bonfire with friends and family Sunday, or otherwise mark this ancient celebration.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Big Three are Bailed; How about California?

The U.S. Legislature, in its infinite wisdom, is well on its way to a $14 billion bailout of the auto industry. Will it step in to save California next?

The State reports California's budget deficit is $3.3 billion which, the governor claims, will grow to $14.5 billion in the next fiscal year if legislators can't get their ducks in a row. So, when will California go for the Big Handout? And will the feds, so interested in saving an industry that pays their top execs 101.7 times California governor's $206,500 salary step in to preserve or even IMPROVE this situation for, oh, public education, health care, roads and emergency services?

The State of California employs 345,000 people and countless others in support industries, not to mention the industries supported by those employees such as tourism, grocery, housing and retail. The Big Three auto makers employ about 242,000 people, and, like California, support other industries. California's gross domestic product is $1.7 trilion, the fifth largest economy in the world. From this standpoint, clearly California is at least as important as the Big Three.

To make ends meet, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes slashing the budget 10% across the board, with some exceptions of course. We all know most of us, and certainly our government, can cut budgets, but to what end? Our friend the public education system is being asked to slice just $865 million from its $65.1 million state-funded budget. They've already cut the budget for categorical programs, transportation, charters, class-size reduction (some districts have dumped CSR altogether - returning to their old over-sized classes), and COLA for the administration. I know they'll find somewhere to cut, but the cuts certainly won't benefit the kids in any way.

Do I think the state should go to the feds for handouts? No. Neither did I think the auto industry or the banking industry should have. But I do believe that government should put the basis of our country - a strong educational foundation - ahead of the financial interests of a select sector or two. Without an educated population we'll continue our downward spiral.

Ask me again why we homeschool. Then ask yourselves: Why don't you?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Bail me out!

Warning: The following statements are completely political, biased and may not jive with your own opinions. They have nothing to do with homeschooling, traveling or anything else entertaining.

When Ford revolutionized the auto industry, indeed all factory industries, with its assembly line it represented American ingenuity, true competitive spirit, and success. Those were the days when Americans were building amazing structures, landmark bridges and buildings that stand today. When individuals and companies developed goods and services that changed the world.

Today, government hand-outs are reaching the highest echelons. Soup kitchens scratch while execs who make millions of dollars each and every year are asking for bailouts for their companies, and thereby themselves. Teachers of tomorrow's builders and planners, lawmakers and caregivers drive clunkers and live in suburbia while CEOs shoot for more, more, MORE!

It was bad enough when our government decided to bail out the banking industry which, through it's own poor judgement, opted to give credit to people who clearly couldn't afford the homes they were buying; banks which capitalize on customers to such an extent that every service is fee-based for CUSTOMERS with cash in the bank. If I go out and buy the land and home I want and KNOW we can't afford, will government please come bail us out too?

Now they're talking about bailing out the Big Three auto makers. I find it appalling that government would even consider a multi-BILLION-dollar bailout of companies that pay their highest executives MULTI-MILLION DOLLARs EVERY YEAR while their lowest-paid employees struggle to make ends meet. According to the Los Angeles Times, Rick Wagoner, GM CEO, reported an income of $15.7 MILLION in 2007 alone. Alan Mullaly of Ford reported $22.8 million. What can a person even do making that kind of money year after year? And why should we, as taxpayers who scratch to get by, bailout a company that can't pay its employees equitably?

I know, I know - it's not about the execs. It's about saving the industry and the multitude of jobs it supports. But there must be some way to compete, to make it, to move forward rather than stagnate and die, than to put it on the backs of the taxpayers. This isn't free market, we're talking about. This tends a helluva long way toward a twisted socialist system - let the people pay while the biggies continue to live large.

Before taxpayers like you and me who struggle to get by bailout these companies, these companies should work on their own bailout plan which IMMEDIATELY calls for the reduction in pay of all top execs to no more than a living wage - say $1 million per year cap. (Certainly they couldn't live of the income with which so many families manage.)

I know GM and Ford execs have pledge to work for $1 next year if they get this bailout. Big deal! What about a LONG-TERM solution!? If I made $21 million in 2007, I could work for a buck a year for the rest of my life. Couldn't you?

Perhaps they should pledge to compete in the global market. Perhaps they should develop vehicles that are truly cutting edge. Consumers want performance and energy savings these days. Cars that don't run on petroleum. Vehicles that provide safety, comfort, speed and range while also protecting their wallets (and thereby the environment). The technology has been here for decades. Perhaps the Big Three can start investing in that.

Addendum: Thanks, Bret, for this -

Monday, December 8, 2008

The song that sums it up

If you've been a mom more than half a decade, you've already started learning the words. If you're the mother of a teen, well, you've got it nearly down pat. And our moms? And our grandmothers? You bet - they know every last lyric.

The Mom Song from Northland Video on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Are Pennies for Real (Tender)?

Funny the things we learn as we travel this planet. Today, I learned that pennies may be legal tender, but no one has to take them. No...seriously! There's no law requiring businesses or other money-grubbing agencies (or even me or you) to take ANY coin, note or other "cash" as provided by the U.S. monetary system.

Illogical? I concur.

Here's the penny story of the day:

The girls and I enjoyed a nice midday tea time in SLO where we parked in the structure for ease (no meters), price (cheaper than meters) and location (very close to library). I knew we'd have to pay 75 cents when we left, but the change drawer in the van was stocked so I thought I was prepared.

Before we pulled up to the tollbooth I counted out the change. DOH! The "silver" added up to only 55 cents. No worries, though, right? I had a load of pennies. I counted out 20 of them, put them with the other coins and handed it over.

The attendant was not amused. He put the change down on his counter then said, "I can't take this."

I thought he was kidding.

"I'm not allowed to take more than 10 pennies from any one person. More than 10 pennies isn't legal tender."

He could, however, take a check (does anyone carry a checkbook anymore?) or make me out a nice little bill that I could take home and MAIL back with payment enclosed (in the form of a check, of course). THAT would have saved staff time?

Turns out there have been several recent public arguments about this issue:
- A Santa Cruz man recently tried to pay his parking fines in pennies (and a video here). City only takes checks and credit cards. But what do the credit card companies accept as payment? Do they have to accept U.S. currency, or will jelly beans do?

- New Jersey kids tried a peaceful protest of shortened lunch hour by paying for their meals in pennies. They were given detention. (Aren't schools also famous for their "penny drive" fundraisers? If schools won't take them, why should anyone take them from schools?)

- Another man attempted to pay $1,000 in fines with pennies, argued the case, and ended up paying not only an additional fee for the recipient to deal with the pennies, but also additional court costs as he argued his own case of having paid with what HE believed to be "legal tender."

I understand counting pennies can be a hassle, and paying a large fine in the form of pennies is going to cost SOMEONE some time. But really, would a dime have saved that much time for the poor little ol' tollbooth worker in SLO? And if I don't have it, are my 10 pennies really going to be a burden? At the end of the day when he counts out his drawer he'll have a shitload of pennies. He won't remember who they came from - and it really doesn't matter.

In all fairness, I figured I'd include this follow up. After my e-mail to the city, I received a phone call from Bill Humphrey, the incredibly responsive, positive parking coordinator for the city of SLO. He had already talked to the employee involved, and it turns out the city has no POLICY against pennies (or any other coin), but leaves it up to employee discretion. If there is, say, a very long line and someone's counting out 300 pennies, then the employee MAY not want to hold up traffic. Mr. Humphrey was apologetic for the incident. Given the situation (I had my coins counted out, and there were only 20 pennies involved while no one was behind me at the kiosk), he said he thought the employee should have used "better judgement."

Mr. Humphrey followed up with a personal letter including the following, "I promise not to complicate your parking experience by another complicated or rather bizarre financial transaction.

"I want to thank you again for our conversation the other day. Without it, we would not be able to improve on what we do. I like to think positive of our mistakes because we can always learn valuable lessons from them"

Thanks to YOU, Mr. Humphrey.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TINY travel & GIANT turkeys

Tonight while researching further information about our much-improved 1971-72 Compact Jr. trailer I came upon this new RV. You thought OUR space was tight!? Then again, THIS Jeep-mounted space will go a lot more places than ours will. Still...I think I'll stick with our Junior, particularly for the price! WHEW!

Had a really nice Thanksgiving with a fantastic meal and great company. The grandparents all took turns playing with or reading with the girls. Grandpa Doug read the entire (abridged, but entire) version of The Secret Garden in one sitting. Clearly Grandma was exhausted after helping out in the kitchen and socializing all day. (Plus, it's tough to stay awake on a warm comfy couch when someone's reading to you, isn't it?) Grandma Margaret got into the act with dress-up. (I believe they were pioneers this time rather than the Donner party that the girls have tended to play more often in recent weeks.)

I managed to make some fantastic turkey soup stock (about 1 1/2 gallons) complete with plenty of meat that fell of the bones I was cooking. Also have leftover turkey frozen and have been snacking on turkey sandwiches and various other turkey concoctions since shortly after we finished cleaning up from Thanksgiving dinner.

Followed up with a gingerbread cookie backing session Friday afternoon. What a mess...but MMMM so tasty! This week - headed south to the Big D. ('s a secret!)

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